Listen Up! Music Interview: The Spiels

The Spiels' Ryan Lamey (left) and Ben McGarvey

You may remember our interview with Autoheart earlier this year prior to their Barfly gig. Now the London five-piece is curating a monthly residency at The Lexington – Autoheart’s Punch – where its own live sets are complemented by performances from other up-and-coming new acts. One such act to be showcased at this month’s Punch night is The Spiels, a Mancunian (via Canada) quintet sporting not one but two(!) lead singers.

Two skippers for one boat may seem excessive in these times of economic lacklusterness, but each of Ryan Lamey (the Canadian one) and Ben McGarvey – for it is they! – is already an established singer-songwriter in his own right and together they draw on their individual musical backgrounds to create harmonious and highly pleasing-to-the-ear results.

Having just scored a support slot on American duo, Uh Huh Her‘s recent tour, The Spiels are currently working on their debut album, a track from which, “Under Doctor’s Orders” they’re giving as a free download to Londonist readers. Here, Ben McGarvey spiels the beans (sorry, that really was a cheap gag) on where the band’s name comes from and what their musical influences are. He also forewarns the TFL cleaning unit of potential work this weekend.

Oh, hi, Ben. Tell us, how did The Spiels start out?
I had originally put an ad out on Gumtree looking to collaborate with people and Ryan replied. We already actually knew of each other as we both had (and still do) solo projects as well and had performed at the same gig in the past, although we’d never actually spoken. So we began to write songs together and it all went from there. We originally called ourselves Minute Orchestra but later changed our minds about it and relaunched ourselves as The Spiels with Jo (violin), Gemma (bass) and Andy (drums), who all replied to similar adverts, a bit later on.

Where does the name The Spiels come from?
From the end of the word glockenspiels. You can say Speel or Schpeel depending on your personal preference.

You’ve covered Kate Bush’s “December Will Be Magic Again”. How did that come about?
A French record label called Ocean Music approached us to cover a Christmas song. We had a few days to get a song together. With me and Ryan both being huge Kate Bush fans, we decided to have a crack at that song. We are really pleased with the way it turned out, actually. It’s very different to the original which I think is the only way to go when covering songs.

Who are your other musical influences?
Mainly quite dark, melodic, moody stuff such as Radiohead, Arcade Fire, The Smiths, Bat For Lashes, Sufjan Stevens, Mogwai, Low, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Wild Beasts and PJ Harvey.

Being based in Manchester, does that prejudice you in favour of Coronation Street over Eastenders?
Yes. Corrie is way better than Eastenders!

Are you nervous about doing your first live show in London this Friday?
No, we are excited! The nerves come later [laughs].

Do you envisage having to move to London for the band’s career or is it easy enough operating from Manchester?
We’ve not really talked about it. I think Manchester has a lot to offer but you never know!

What is the song ‘Under Doctors Orders’ about?
A lot of songs are from the perspective of fictional characters and I think parts of ourselves creep in there but are perhaps exaggerated a little! This song is from the point of view of someone in a mental institution who is only left with a faint memory of the outside world.

You’ve already released music as a solo artist and you’re currently working on your next project, Minute Taker. Does that material influence The Spiels’ material and vice versa?
Hmm, I guess they must influence each other to an extent. When I have a new idea for a song it’s somehow always clear if it’s going to be a Spiels song, though.

When are we going to be able to buy The Spiels’ music for ready money?
Well, actually we are planning on putting out a 5 track EP very shortly.

During your stay in London for your gig, which of these are you most likely to do: (a) enjoy a leisurely half-hour on the London Eye; (b) go out in Soho; (c) be sick on the Tube?
I think options (b) and (c) are both quite possible.

Autoheart’s Punch starring Autoheart, The Spiels, Helium Robots, Bright Light Bright Light and WotYouGot is at the Lexington this Friday, 11th May 2012. Tickets are £5 and available on the door.

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